Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) 洛神花

Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
If you are in Egypt and someone offers you hibiscus tea, that’s the plant you will be tasting. It’s a common drink in Egypt and surrounding countries and has been used and grown there for thousands of years.

The Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a species of hibiscus native to the Old World tropics. It is an annual or perennial herb or woody-based subshrub, growing to 2–2.5 m tall. The leaves are deeply three- to five-lobed, 8–15 cm long, arranged alternately on the stems.The flowers are 8–10 cm in diameter, white to pale yellow with a dark red spot at the base of each petal, and have a stout fleshy calyx at the base, 1.5–2 cm wide, enlarging to 3–3.5 cm, fleshy and bright red as the fruit matures. It is an annual plant, and takes about six months to mature.

How to grow
Roselle is very sensitive to frost. grow best in tropical and subtropical climate.
Sow seed in fairly fertile sandy loam soil in nursery bed and transplanted when 3 to 4 inches. Require watering regularly to promote growth.

Begin harvesting the calyx as soon as the flower has wilted and the husk turns red and fleshy

This fresh Roselle is the main contents in preparing Roselle based products such as various types of drinks, puree, jam, Roselle vinegar, foods, garnishing, for bakery and medication preparation.
The red calyces of the plant are increasingly exported to America and Europe, where they are used as food colorings. Germany is the main importer. It can also be found in markets (as flowers or syrup) in some places such as France, where there are Senegalese immigrant communities. The green leaves are used like a spicy version of spinach. They give flavour to the Senegalese fish and rice dish thiéboudieune. In Africa, especially the Sahel, roselle is commonly used to make a sugary herbal tea that is commonly sold on the street. The dried flowers can be found in every market. In the Caribbean the drink is made from the fresh fruit, and it is considered an integral part of Christmas celebrations.

Nutrition info
Roselle/Hibiscus apart from having natural color (red) and taste(light sour), the petal (calyx) rich with Vitamins, Citric Acid and Malic Acid,Vitamin A, Niacin and Calcium and no Caffeine.

Health Benefit
Roselle calyces are harvested fresh to produce pro-health drink due to high contents of vitamin C and anthocyanins. have been used since ancient times as a boost to promote and maintain optimal health by locals. Made into a tea drink, it is known to exert a cooling action, helping with digestion and with elimination of internal dampness and heat.
Roselle is associated with traditional medicine and is reported to be used as treatment for several diseases such as hypertension and urinary tract infections.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Laurentia longiflora (White Tibey)

It is also called Star of Bethlehem, is a perennial herb which forms a rosette of narrow lanceolate leaves that are thick, pubescentes and coarsely pinnatilobed.
The plant contains a poisonous milky sap, an alkaloid, which can cause burns and irritation. The flowers are long and white, on a 2 cm pubescent pedicel in a shape of a star with bearded anthers. The fruit is a pubescent capsule divided in two cells with minute light brown seeds.

Hippobroma longiflora, a native of the West Indies, is a perennial herb with poisonous milky sap. They will reach 2 feet in containers and are very showy when in bloom.

Blooming Time: Summer-Fall. The white flowers are 3½ inches long and 2 inches across.

Culture: Hippobroma longiflora will grow in part shade to full shade with a rich, well-drained soil. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts sand or perlite. During the growing season, the plant should be kept moist for optimum growth. Fertilize weekly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, water less and do not fertilize. I recommend keeping the fruit from ripening because the plant can become very weedy in the greenhouse setting.

Propagation: Hippobroma longiflora are easily propagated from cutting or by seed. Seed germinate in 7-14 days at 65° F.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Talinum paniculatum Kingswood Gold

Tropical Color – Sun – 18"x24" – Zone 10 –

Other names: Flame flower, Jewels-of-opar, puchero
Family: Portulacaceae Origin: Brazil

Soft yellow-green, broad basal foliage with tiny pink flowers followed by ruby-orange seed pods. Strong, thin wiry stems make them an exceptional filler for any bouquet. These charming, heat-tolerant plants bloom all summer. A striking addition to any garden landscape. Perennial in Zones 9-10; best grown as an annual elsewhere. Ht. 24-30". Avg. 26,500 seeds/oz. Packet: 15 seeds. The chartreuse foliage has a soft appearance, giving this plant a delicate look. The individual flowers, on airy stalks, are small, but are nice massed together, especially with the red bead-like buds and fruits. A favorite with bees.


Noteworthy characteristics: This plant is excellent in mixed containers and window boxes. It self-seeds prolifically and will self-sow into any garden soil.
Care: Provide poor to moderately rich, well-drained soil in full sun or light shade.
Propagation: Divide in spring, or start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date.
Problems: Sometimes bothered by aphids.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cantaloupe / Rockmelon

Scientific Name : Cucumis melo reticulatus

Cantaloupe is the most popular variety of melon of the cucumber family. It is a round melon with firm, orange, moderately-sweet flesh and a thin reticulated light-brown rind. This fruit has a refreshingly rich flavor and aroma and minimal number of calories. It has a soft and juicy texture with a sweet, musky aroma that emanates through the melon when it is ripe. Cantaloupes feature a hollow cavity that contains their seeds encased in a web of netting.

In Australia and New Zealand, it is called rockmelon due to the rock-like appearance of the skin of the fruit. It is called a spanspek or sweet melon in South Africa, where it is harvested during the summer months October through February.

How to grow
Cantaloupe and honeydew are warm-season crops that grow best at average air temperatures between 65 and 75 °F. It is best to plant when the soil temperature is at least 60 to 65 °F. These melons are very tender and should be planted after the last chance of frost.

Melons seeds can be planted directly in the garden or transplants can be grown to get an early start. Cantaloupes and honeydews need a lot of space. Plant the melons in rows 6 to 8 feet apart. Transplants or seed should be planted in the rows 18 to 24 inches apart. If starting from seed, plant the seed about ½ to ¾-inch deep. Water regularly to keep the soil moist and apply 5-10-10 fertilizer for better plant growth.

About 30 to 35 days are required from fruit pollination to harvest for most cantaloupe varieties. Most honeydew varieties take a little longer. When the stem separates completely, called “full slip,” the cantaloupe fruit has achieved its maximum sugar development and if not consumed or cooled soon thereafter, its quality will deteriorate.

The cantaloupe is ready to harvest when the stem easily separates from the fruit. To avoid over-ripening, harvest cantaloupes before they naturally separate from the vine. The best way to check maturity of cantaloupes is to place your thumb beside the stem and gently apply pressure to the side. If the stem separates easily, the cantaloupe is ripe

Nutrition Info
Excellent source of Vitamin A & C. Good source of potassium, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Clerodendrum thomsoniae Balf. 紅萼龍吐珠

Clerodendrum thomsoniae is also known as bleeding heart or glory bower. It is a twining evergreen shrub that is native to Western Central Africa. Leaves are evergreen, simple, opposite, glabrous, entire. They are up to 6 in (15 cm) long and have strong veins. Flowers appear mainly in summer. They are grouped in axillary or terminal panicles. Flowers have a white calyx, a scarlet-red corolla, and prominent stamens and style. This plant produces inedible black and orange-red berries as fruit. Green at first, they blacken as they ripen. Then, they split open from the top to the bottom to present a bright orange fleshy lining that contains four black seeds. Blooms mostly from April to October-November in natural conditions of tropical climate. The plant drops some leaves (not all of them) in winter, and has some flowers (not much) even during the winter time. As long as you provide lots of light to it, it'll bloom most of the time.

This Clerodendrum is often sold as a house plant. However, it is a fast growing and vigorous plant that is best grown outdoors in warm climates, or under glass elsewhere. This plant needs direct sun in order to bloom well; a sunny window may be sufficient if you don't move the container outdoors for the season. Water and fertilize regularly when actively growing. Use a rich, but well-drained potting medium and keep moist but not wet. Since C. thomsoniae blooms on new growth, it is best to cut the plant back after blooming. Thin out old overcrowded shoots and any other far-reaching growth to keep the vine in bounds - don't be afraid to prune severely. Bleeding heart vine has few pests, but mealybugs and spider mites can occasionally be problems.

Although it is root hardy to zone 9, it really is a tropical plant and does need protection from freezing. If grown outdoors, move inside when temperatures fall below 45ºF. When temperatures are cool enough (even indoors), the plant will shed its leaves. New leaves will resprout from the roots or what looks like dead wood in spring. If it does go dormant in the winter, withhold water until the new growth starts (water just enough to keep the soil from drying out and don't fertilize).

Bleeding heart vine is easy to propagate by cuttings or serpentine layering. Semi-ripe tip cuttings taken in late spring or late summer can be rooted in water or moist sand or other medium. Roots should appear in about 2 weeks. Seeds can also be planted in spring.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Zephyr flower (Zephyranthes candida) 韭蘭

he Zephyranthes are a genus of bulbous species in the amaryllis family that are indigenous and limited to the Western Hemisphere, being an entire American species of Amaryllidaceae. Several dozen bulbous species occur only in warm temperate to tropical areas, from near sea level to high plateau and mountain regions.

Some common names include rain lilies, August rain lily, and Zephyr lily. But most people call the small and delicate zephyranthes rain lilies, because they tend to send up a flush of bloom about four days after each rainy spell.

This is a white cultivar of a flower usually found in pink flowering forms, Candida, grows 152 mm to 254 mm (6-10 inches) tall. It's ideal for rock gardens and for tucking into groundcovers.

Leaves are a deep glossy green and measure 3 mm wide. Flowers are erect in perianth white or sometimes pinkish abaxially. The leaf-like brach is 1.8 to 4 cm. They grow best in full sun to part shade and require a medium wet soil (regular watering).

Propagation is done by dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets) and from seed; direct sow outdoors in fall.

Bloom time: Late summer into fall

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Four O-Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa L.) 煮飯花

An old fashioned favorite, four o-clocks are a fast growing bush plant. They grow to about 36" with oval lance shaped leaves and trumpet shaped, fragrant flowers. Flowers may be shades of red, pink, yellow, white or striped. Mirabilis is a wonderful addition to an evening garden. Once even one flower opens, a rich fragrance is released into the surrounding air.

The plant thrives in all zones, blooming in early through late summer. Four o’clocks thrive in ordinary soil in full sun or partial shade, sending up numerous volunteer seedlings every year (even in cold parts of the country.)

Seeds may be sown directly into the garden in the Spring in warm areas. In other areas, start the seeds indoors about eight weeks before the final frost date in Spring for transplanting. Seedlings may be set in the garden at about the same time you would plant tomatoes. Allow about 12 inches between plants. Roots are tuberous and can be stored for planting in the Spring. Plants can also be divided in early Spring.